Here are a few Hints and Tips I've picked up while browsing the web and by first hand experiance.
Advertising can be a big drain on your takings. Maybe it's time to give your advertising a health check. Far too often businesses fall into the trap of 'thinking' an advert in a magazine, newspaper or other media is working. Try and track your advertising success by asking your customers where they heard about you and cut back on the poor or the adverts that don't perform. There are a myriad of free or cheap advertising routes without having to splash out on a TV ad or the centre pages of a magazine.
Here are a few advertising ideas that won't break the bank:
Spread the word to your own circle of friends, businesses and acquaintances. Yes, that's right we can all be almost too shy sometimes. Let people know what your URL is and what you're doing to make a living. Make sure you have your web address on your letterhead and business cards and in your e-mail signatures. In fact use you URL anywhere where potential visitors are likely to see it. Include your web address wherever you can; employee work wear, promotional items you may give away, all press releases, in all your advertising and on company vehicles.
A little help from your friends can go a long way. The kind of support you'd most like to get from your friends is referrals. Go ahead and ask your friends of any specific individuals who may need your products and services. Get your friends to give prospects your name and number as well as passing on your URL.
Network. Look at joining local groups of like minded people who come together with the sole purpose of expanding local knowledge about what it is that they do for business. Networking can give you extra support as well s introducing you to a whole new band of friends.
Blog. Give your potential customers a little insight into your business world. Introduce them to special offers or benefits your company may have, whether as a one off promotion or on an ongoing basis. Make your blog your own with your own special style of messaging and branding.
Get some feedback and get your customers to help by carrying out a review of your business or web site. This may involve offering a small incentive but if your customer service is great then your customers are likely to be pleased to help.
Twitter. Do you tweet? Perhaps it's time you did. It's free, easy and fun to use and tweeting can help to build a new network of fellow businesses and friends. You can introduce your URL and your products for sale with your regular and timely tweets.
Facebook is free and fun. Never mind being John Smith you should be thinking about a page for John Smith Limited i.e. your business name. Create a page for your company, search out friends and colleagues and invite them to join your page showing their support. Use Face book to introduce your company, your special offers and your promotions.
Piggy back when posting items out to customers or suppliers. Put one of your own flyers or compliment slips in even when you are paying a supplier or sending a final demand. You are paying the postage; you may as well get a little added value from the cost. If you have a point of sale in your shop make sure there are always plenty of leaflets or promotional goodies parked right beside it.
E mail can help you to stay in touch with your customers. Introduce your e mail address book to your business and what your business propositions are. Produce an interesting message and ask the recipients to forward it to their own list of e mail addresses.
Form alliances with your neighbouring businesses perhaps sharing the costs of a direct mail campaign by getting two leaflets or more in your envelope. Work with businesses that complement and reciprocate your own that are happy to share costs with you.
Go Online. Taking your business online has never been cheaper than it is now with the CastOff Shop SolutionsTM being such an easy start work from home or online business for you. You can start out by selling items for next to nothing on our online auction and sale platform. If you want to create a professional storefront, there are several options available for a low monthly fee.
Labour Cost Saving Ideas
Ask the people you know for help. Consider leaning on your family and friends a little to see if they may deliver leaflets or just do a few hours a week to help out. Helping to package or to dispatch parcels is not necessarily a skilled job and perhaps one where your friends could help.
Commission for staff in lieu of an hourly rate may be a consideration. Is there a way you could target your work force on a commission basis? Most businesses could work in this manner but many don't think about it enough to be able to put a commission basis into practice. The obvious target is the sales representative who could work on a sales produced basis quite readily.
Outsourcing may save cash. There are many opportunities to outsource specific tasks or particular areas of most businesses, saving on overheads. Make sure you brief the element to be outsourced fully closing the door on any possible argument about what should be expected.
Volunteers can be found if you look hard enough. There are volunteer groups throughout the UK where volunteers are screened prior to acceptance on a volunteer register.
Shift patterns and trimming. You may well have quiet periods in your business where staff are not fully employed i.e. costing you money. Think where you could cut back or introduce productive and potentially profitable tasks to these quieter periods.
Think flexibility. Rather than paying for employees who sit idle when your business is slow, consider hiring in temporary employees to handle busy periods.
Negotiate a Better Deal
Speak with your regular business support suppliers; your accountant, even your bank. If you've been a regular customer for years there's a good chance their services have gone stale or gotten easier but their fees haven't.
Never buy anything for your business without first acquiring like for like quotes from suppliers. Learn the power of negotiation, playing one supplier off against another forging a reputation for being a shrewd shopper. It's good to send this message to your suppliers, letting them know you will not be taken advantage of.
Buying Power. You may well have buying power you are unaware of. Try asking how much discount you could have by buying 'x' amount or by guaranteeing a certain degree of turnover for your supplier in a given period.
Use your cash flow. Many business suppliers extend a period of free credit to their customers. 30days, 60, 90, even 120+ days on occasion. If you don't need credit then ask for a little extra discount to pay by return or by paying in advance? Remember if you don't ask, you will not get.
Is your lease up for renewal soon? Do a little forward planning by finding out beforehand if your landlord is intending to put your rent up. Be forearmed with other options for moving premises just in case your landlord is immoveable to negotiation.
Take Credit. If your suppliers don't discount you for payment on delivery or early settlement then why not take your products on a sale or return basis or take up their credit terms. The cash can be used elsewhere or stay on deposit in your bank.
Avoid giving credit. Try to engineer a position whereby your suppliers give you extended credit but you take cash payments yourself. This will quickly build up your status at the bank but just be aware you will need to settle your accounts when they become due. Be reluctant where possible to offer credit.
Giving secured credit. If you have to give a large amount of credit to secure a customers business then you should strongly consider securing the debt by personal guarantees or a pledge of assets. Be comfortable with the credit you offer and avoid mistakes by checking out your debtor first.
Save money selling online
Join the CastOff Shop SolutionsTM membership scheme to start by saving your existing fees and bills you pay for your own web hosting, server and domain. For a readily affordable monthly fee you can launch your new or existing business online and focus on working with this great new proposition to land customers on your personalised shop floor. With a host of benefits it's time to look at where you could save money and still realise your sales potential.
I hope this helps save the pennies and inturn helps make more !
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